Strategic Growth Council Awards $16M in Planning Grants : Looks to Future Cap and Trade Funding

FINAL ROUND OF PROP 84 SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PLANNING GRANTS AWARDED – WHAT’S NEXT?

Today the California Strategic Growth Council awarded over $16 million in its third and final round of Proposition 84 Sustainable Communities Planning Grants.  This successful program has sparked innovation in sustainability planning across California’s communities by incentivizing the integration of transportation, land use, and resource conservation.

The City of Davis, in partnership with Yolo County and UC Davis, received $591,108 for their “Downtown/University Gateway District Plan” proposal — which will bring together a vision for energy, water, and transportation conservation in a critical infill site located between the three jurisdictions.  Reviewed by a panel including a dozen state agency departments, the innovative plan was the highest ranking application in the state.  Policy in Motion is so grateful to have had the opportunity to help craft this proposal with the City, County, and University and is dedicated to ensuring California continues to fund the implementation of projects like this across the state.

Today was a significant milestone for the Strategic Growth Council — having now awarded over $66 million to 126 cities, counties, and regions in California under the Prop 84 funding program.  With the total grant requests vastly exceeding the available funding, it is clear that California communities are eager to plan and build a more sustainable future.

Since the passage of SB 375 in 2008 local governments have been actively seeking funding sources to make the implementation of regional Sustainable Communities Strategies not just a goal, but a reality.

We have a transformative opportunity under California’s cap and trade program to help communities do this — but we need to ensure that we create a program that focuses on three things:

  • INTEGRATION – the combination of different transportation demand management and multi modal infrastructure is essential for not only maximizing greenhouse gas emissions, but also for cost effective investments in our communities. A Sustainable Communities Implementation Program that focuses on real projects and programs in communities would allow for innovative and integrated transportation solutions — for some communities that might be electric car sharing, others may need a central transit station, a bike trail that links across town, or a landscaped street to encourage walking. We need to empower local governments to figure out the best combinations of these investments and incentivize combined approaches because transportation is a “system” not a “silo.”
  • LAND USE – local land use planning is the most critical and most overlooked component in reducing transportation GHG emissions.  We need to take this window of opportunity to leverage sustainable changes in local land use plans, codes, and ordinances, by offering local governments much needed transportation funding that requires outdated land use plans to get a makeover. We have a critical opportunity to think about how transportation systems link and leverage land use. This is what “integration” is all about.
  • PEOPLE – we must keep in mind the cap and trade program impacts will essentially look like a new gas tax to consumers of all incomes and should keep a nexus with putting funding back into local transportation systems that serve all people — whether they be motorists, transit riders, bicyclists, or pedestrians (all of whom use some aspect of our roads). Current proposals for allocating cap and trade do not highlight the importance of this and need to include more funding for active transportation and roadway preservation. And we also must remember sustainable communities are ultimately about creating “people-oriented development” and places where families, seniors, and students all want to live, work, learn, shop, and play.  At the end of the day we want to create communities where people want to walk their dogs under tree lined streets, bike with their kids to a school nearby, take transit to work (and get there on time), and drive through roundabouts without potholes.

Cap and trade revenues will grow into billions of dollars per year in the next few years, so this source of revenue could provide the missing piece in achieving sustainable communities throughout California if done right.

But now is the time.

A performance-based approach to reducing GHG emissions is at the heart of cap and trade – it is a market mechanism geared toward innovation beyond what can be achieved purely through regulatory measures.  We have a real opportunity to use a unique funding source to re-create communities across the state.

We can do this through new sources of funding that are allocated at a regional level where the technical and policy expertise is greatest, and through competitive grants for local communities that are based on maximizing GHG reduction through combinations of transportation investments and land use changes needed to implement SB 375.

Lauren Michele, Principal/Founder, Policy in Motion.

Lauren earned a Master’s of Science degree from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies after working as a transportation planning professional at Fehr & Peers, a climate change policy analyst at the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington D.C., and an air quality program assistant at the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.  At the UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) she focused on the links between California’s Senate Bill 375 and developing federal climate/energy legislation and the transportation reauthorization.  Her academic work includes teaching undergraduate courses in Transportation Policy at UC Davis and experiential learning while living and researching multi-modal transportation planning in Europe.

Lauren currently serves as Policy Director for the Transportation Coalition for Livable Communities — an organization which includes the California Alliance for Jobs, California Transit Association, National Resources Defense Council, League of California Cities, State Association of Counties, and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Councils of Governments throughout the state. The Coalition promotes the investment of cap and trade revenue to address both the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32 and critical transportation system maintenance and operation needs that build on the framework of SB 375 and other GHG reduction strategies.

Her firm, Policy in Motion, specializes in sustainable transportation policy.  Policy in Motion offers planning practitioners, policy makers, and public agencies an understanding of how to integrate sustainability policy into transportation infrastructure and land use decisions.  Lauren Michele’s 2011 book, “Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32” explores the State’s evolving policies for sustainable living through transportation planning, and identifies how outdated regulatory frameworks must be aligned with supporting paradigm shifts if California is to move forward in a truly unified vision for “People-Oriented Development” and transportation.  Lauren’s 2012 film documentary, “Policy in Motion: Growing Beautiful Communities” continues to explore how an integrated approach to transportation planning and funding based on “People-Oriented Development” (POD) can improve community quality of life while meeting California’s environmental and economic goals. Policy in Motion’s book and film are available for purchase on-line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and www.policyinmotion.com.

 

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